MLB Trade Rumors » » Cincinnati Reds 2017-11-23T22:37:41Z Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Joey Votto Not Likely To Be Traded This Winter]]> 2017-11-23T14:01:41Z 2017-11-22T16:37:32Z Just in case there was any doubt,’s Mark Sheldon writes in response to a fan inquiry that there’s no indication whatsoever that Reds first baseman Joey Votto will end up being moved this winter. The polished batsman, who very nearly took home National League MVP honors for the 2017 season, has given every indication that “he doesn’t want to leave the Reds,” says Sheldon, and can control his own fate through a full no-trade clause.

  • The Twins will need to chase down some relief arms, too. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on his podcast (audio link) that the club has engaged the Padres on Brad Hand and the Rays on Alex Colome. Minnesota was previously reported to have chatted with the Reds about Raisel Iglesias, and these new names fit the same general profile as established late-inning arms with affordable remaining control. All will come with appropriately lofty price tags. Berardino also tweets that Cubs lefty Justin Wilson might represent a target for the Twins. Having struggled last year upon landing in Chicago, Wilson could conceivably become available, though that’s far from certain. Minnesota eyed the power southpaw in the past, says Berardino, though that occurred before the current front office leadership came into office.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Added To The 40-Man Roster]]> 2017-11-21T01:48:28Z 2017-11-21T00:47:42Z As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…

Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …

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Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 11/18/17]]> 2017-11-18T15:32:07Z 2017-11-18T15:32:07Z Here are Saturday’s minor moves throughout the league…

  • The Reds have re-signed outfielder Patrick Kivlehan to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, beat reporter Mark Sheldon of reports on Twitter. After bouncing around between the minor league systems of the Mariners, Rangers and Padres, Kivlehan made his major league debut in 2016 with the Padres organization and eventually made his way over to the Reds. In 204 plate appearances with Cincinnati last year, he hit .208/.304/.399 with a 29.9% K rate and 9 homers.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 11/17/17]]> 2017-11-18T03:37:51Z 2017-11-18T03:10:16Z Here are Friday’s minor moves throughout the league…

  • Joining the Reds on minors deals are outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer was among those to report on Twitter. Once seen as one of the game’s better overall prospects, the 26-year-old Williams has seen scant action in the majors over the past three seasons — all with the Yankees, his only professional team to this point. At the highest level of the minors last year, Williams posted a .263/.309/.318 batting line and swiped 19 bags over 437 plate appearances.Herrera, 25, has himself received top prospect billing in the past and is also something of a change-of-scenery candidate (in his case, from the Rockies). He just wrapped up his first season at Triple-A, slashing .278/.351/.394 with twenty steals over 363 plate appearances.
  • The Mets have struck a minors pact with southpaw Matt Purke, the team announced. Purke, 27, was considered a significant amateur prospect but has never fully found his niche at the game’s highest levels while dealing with numerous injury issues. He cracked the majors in 2016 with the White Sox, but did not return last year even as the Chicago organization cycled through a number of arms. Purke arguably turned in his best work in the upper minors, though, working 65 2/3 frames of 3.84 ERA ball over 48 innings while compiling 11.0 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.
  • Right-hander Angel Nesbitt has been hit with a 50-game PED suspension, Emily Waldon of The Athletic tweets. Nesbitt received a 24-game run in the majors in 2015 with the Tigers, but hadn’t made his way back and struggled in limited action in 2017. He is a minor-league free agent, meaning he’ll serve his penance upon signing with a new organization.

Earlier Updates

  • The Blue Jays announced last night that they’ve brought back former first-round pick Deck McGuire on a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. Toronto selected McGuire, now 28 years of age, with the 10th overall pick back in 2010. The former Georgia Tech star tore through Class-A Advanced with the Jays but began to struggle upon reaching Double-A and was ultimately traded to the A’s for cash considerations in 2014. McGuire has since pitched in the upper levels of the Dodgers and Cardinals systems, and in 2017 he made his big league debut with the Reds after turning in a terrific season in Double-A. McGuire tossed 168 innings with a 2.79 ERA, 9.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for Cincinnati’s Pensacola affiliate, and he impressed in a brief sample of MLB innings as well. Through 13 2/3 frames with the Reds, McGuire allowed four earned runs (2.63 ERA) on 10 hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts.
  • Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times tweets that the Dodgers are closing in on a minor league deal with left-hander Manny Banuelos. The 26-year-old Banuelos was once one of the most prized prospects in the Yankees’ farm system before elbow problems slowed his career. Banuelos had Tommy John surgery back in 2013 and has since undergone a second elbow operation to remove bone chips. His lone season with MLB experience came in 2015 when he tossed 26 1/3 innings with the Braves. Banuelos spent the 2017 season with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate and struggled to a 4.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9 in 95 innings. It’s perhaps worth noting that he spent the bulk of 2017 as a reliever (nine starts, 30 relief outings) — his first career season working primarily out of the bullpen.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds, Joe Mantiply Agree To Minors Deal]]> 2017-11-15T01:17:47Z 2017-11-15T01:17:47Z
  •’s Mark Sheldon reports (via Twitter) that the Reds have signed lefty Joe Mantiply to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League Spring Training. The soft-tossing 26-year-old southpaw got a brief cup of coffee with the Tigers in 2016, tossing 2 2/3 innings at the MLB level. Mantiply spent the ’17 season with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, tossing 70 innings with 8.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 49.3 percent ground-ball rate en route to a 2.83 ERA. He’ll look to break into a Reds relief corps that, at present, looks to be somewhat unsettled, though Cincinnati will undoubtedly add some pieces over the course of the offseason.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Notes: Iglesias, Outfield]]> 2017-11-14T21:47:05Z 2017-11-14T21:47:05Z
  • At this stage, at least, reports of interest in Reds closer Raisel Iglesias probably ought to be taken with a grain of salt — not because there isn’t much interest, but because it’s so widespread. Per president of baseball operations Dick Williams, “the fair assumption would be that two-thirds of the teams would have interest without having them have to call,” as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. While the club surely won’t be rash in dealing Iglesias, Williams does note that the team isn’t “holding on to him out of fear of what the rest of the bullpen would do.” At the same time, other clubs are being given the sense that Cincinnati intends to keep Iglesias, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, so it seems likely that it’ll take a significant offer to gain traction in talks.
  • The Reds do recognize they are well-stocked in the outfield, though Williams suggests it’s more depth than a true “surplus” from which to trade. That appears to be a fair take; while Cincinnati could end up with a bit of a playing-time logjam if things break right, that’s also far from a given. Generally, the team’s top baseball decision-maker says to expect “an opportunistic approach” to the offseason — which may also require some patience from fans.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Interested In Billy Hamilton]]> 2017-11-14T00:26:05Z 2017-11-14T00:23:07Z As the Giants canvas the market for center field upgrade options, the team has “shown interest” in Billy Hamilton of the Reds, per’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). The 27-year-old projects to earn an even $5MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility.

    It’s no secret that the Giants are looking to add a center fielder. And it’s clear that defensive capability is a significant consideration, given that Denard Span is being moved to the corner in large part due to his inability to cover sufficient swaths of the spacious grassland of AT&T Park.

    Hamilton would no doubt help in that regard, as he’s one of the game’s premier defenders — and has been ever since becoming regular in 2014. The fleet-footed Hamilton is also one of the very most valuable players in baseball on the basepaths. Trouble is, he has a tough time getting there, with a .298 lifetime on-base percentage.

    Unsurprisingly, Hamilton is likely just one of several possibilities at this stage. Morosi recently connected San Francisco to Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Red Sox, who’d be a more appealing all-around option if he’s made available.

    No doubt the Giants are looking into others as well, with trade talks and the open market both offering possibilities. Lorenzo Cain is the top free agent available, though he’ll require a significant outlay to acquire. Other names on the open market that could conceivably factor into the Giants’ thinking (some of them as potential fourth-outfield options) include Jarrod Dyson, Carlos Gomez, Austin Jackson, Jon Jay, and Cameron Maybin.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Interested In Raisel Iglesias]]> 2017-11-12T23:43:58Z 2017-11-12T23:43:58Z The Twins have checked in with the Reds about a trade for closer Raisel Iglesias, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports (Twitter link).  Iglesias is one of several relievers Minnesota is “performing due diligence on” as the club looks to upgrade its bullpen for next season.

    Iglesias stands out as a logical target for any team in the market for saves, given that a closer is a luxury on a rebuilding team like Cincinnati.  Working as a full-time reliever for the first time, Iglesias just completed the best of his three MLB seasons, posting a 2.49 ERA, 10.89 K/9 and 3.41 K/BB over 76 innings.  Iglesias closed out 28-of-30 save opportunities while generating a career-high swinging strike rate (13.9%) on the strength of an excellent slider and a 96.4 mph fastball.

    Iglesias, who turns 28 in January, brings value both as a strong closer now and as a long-term asset who isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.  As per the terms of his original seven-year, $27MM deal with the Reds, Iglesias had the right to opt out of his guaranteed salary (with the Reds still retaining team control) in any offseason once he became eligible for arbitration, in order to chase a potentially larger payday through the arb process.  MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects Iglesias to earn $2.8MM through arbitration salary next season, so it is likely Iglesias will remain in his current deal for at least one winter, as his contract guarantees him $4.5MM in 2018.

    Iglesias is also slated to earn $5MM in both 2019 and 2020 if he doesn’t opt into arbitration, and then he’ll have one final arb-eligible year as a Super Two player in the 2020-21 offseason.  So while Iglesias’ price tag could potentially grow if he continues to rack up the saves, he’ll still be a cost-effective acquisition for a mid-market team like the Twins, particularly since Minnesota has very little salary on the books past the 2018 season.

    Brandon Kintzler and Matt Belisle handled most of the ninth-inning duties for the Twins last season, though Kintzler was traded at the deadline and Belisle is a free agent, leaving Minnesota in search of a new closer this winter.  The Twins didn’t get strong relief pitching in general in 2017, so it isn’t surprising that they’re looking at Iglesias and other notable bullpen arms on the trade and free agent fronts.  We’ve already heard that the Twins have checked in with Kintzler about possibly bringing the free agent righty back to Target Field.

    The Reds were only interested in hearing big trade offers for Iglesias last summer, and that asking price almost certainly hasn’t changed.  The Twins’ farm system is middle-of-the-pack in terms of prospects to offer (Minnesota was ranked 19th in Baseball America’s post-deadline organizational ranking) since they were a team that seemed to be headed into a rebuild themselves before their surprising AL wild card finish in 2017 changed their outlook.  If comes down to a prospect bidding war for Iglesias’ services, Minnesota might not have the young talent to meet the Reds’ needs.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nick Senzel To Play Various Positions In 2018]]> 2017-11-11T02:02:45Z 2017-11-11T02:01:17Z In an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Friday, free agent right-hander Alex Cobb spoke highly of Cubs manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey, as Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago details. Cobb spent the first seven years of his career in Tampa Bay, where he played under Maddon (2011-14) and Hickey (through 2017), which has led to speculation that the Cubs will pursue him in free agency. On the possibility of joining the Cubs and reuniting with Maddon and Hickey, Cobb said, “Obviously, if we move down the line and we’re able to have some discussions with them, I’d be very honored to be able to talk with them and hopefully come to a deal.”

    Before Cobb’s eligible to sign with the Cubs or another team, he’ll have to reject the Rays’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, which he hinted he’ll do when he said, “You’re talking about, hopefully, a decision that’s going to impact the next five years of your life. Based on that comment, it seems Cobb is seeking a five-year deal (MLBTR is projecting he’ll land a four-year arrangement), though he insisted that he’ll prioritize team success over money. “I’ve been through both. I’ve been through losing seasons and I’ve been through winning seasons,” he stated. “And the amount of joy that winning brings to us – it can’t be replaced by a dollar figure.”

    More from the National League:

    • Joe Frisaro of breaks down offseason trade possibilities for the Marlins, who are reportedly shopping right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, second baseman Dee Gordon and third baseman Martin Prado. To get a haul for Stanton, who’s owed $295MM through 2028 (or $77MM if he opts out after 2020), Frisaro suggests the Fish should pick up one-third of the tab over the next three years. Gordon’s contract is far less complicated – he’s due a manageable $37.9MM through 2020 – which should lead to widespread interest in him, Frisaro observes. The same isn’t true of Prado, who’s coming off a below-average, injury-plagued year and will rake in $28.5MM through 2019. The Marlins’ best hope to move Prado would be to package him with a real asset – center fielder Christian Yelich, for example – Frisaro opines. Otherwise, they’re going to be stuck with the 34-year-old heading into next season.
    • While the Mets could be on the hunt for a second baseman, odds are they won’t be the team that acquires Gordon, Anthony DiComo of writes. The Mets have neither the prospect capital nor payroll flexibility necessary to put together a deal for Gordon, reasons DiComo, who estimates that the club has around $30MM to spend this offseason with needs at second or third base, the corner outfield/first base, the rotation and the bullpen.
    • The Reds plan to use star third base prospect Nick Senzel all over the diamond in 2018, general manager Dick Williams tells Mark Sheldon of “This is a guy that played shortstop in college [at Tennessee], played third base in college, played second base as an amateur,” Williams said. “We think he’s clearly athletic enough to go to left field or right field. He’s got the bat to do it.” The 22-year-old Senzel showed off his prowess at the plate in 2017, hitting a robust .321/.391/.514 in 507 plate appearances between Single-A and Double-A, and figures to open next season at the minors’ highest level.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds To Sign Kevin Quackenbush]]> 2017-11-08T16:59:27Z 2017-11-08T16:59:27Z The Reds have struck a minor-league deal with righty Kevin Quackenbush, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (via Twitter). He will receive an invitation to major-league Spring Training, per C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link).

    Quackenbush had been with the Padres organization ever since he was selected in the eighth round of the 2011 draft. The reliever posted compelling peripherals in his first two seasons in the majors, but has trended in the wrong direction more recently. If he can get back on track, he ought to have a shot at earning a job in a Reds bullpen that has quite a few potential vacancies.

    In 2017, Quackenbush struggled with free passes for the first time as a big leaguer, allowing 5.5 per nine (against 7.9 K/9) while stumbling to a 7.86 ERA over his 26 1/3 innings. Things were somewhat better at Triple-A, where he ran a 3.90 ERA in 27 2/3 frames, but he still didn’t produce like the pitcher who previously routinely carried double-digit K/9 rates in the minors.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Will Not Make Qualifying Offer To Zack Cozart]]> 2017-11-06T20:21:28Z 2017-11-06T19:43:16Z The Reds have “officially” decided against issuing a qualifying offer to shortstop Zack Cozart, tweets Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. FanRag’s Jon Heyman and others have recently painted the chances of such an offer for Cozart as unlikely. The lack of a QO should boost Cozart’s free-agent stock as he heads into the open market on the heels of a career year.

    Cozart, 32, batted .297/.385/.548 with a career-high 24 home runs, 24 doubles and seven triples (also a career-high) in 2017. Though hamstring and quadriceps injuries limited him to 122 games, Cozart’s explosive bat and typically strong glovework at shortstop led to a five-WAR season in the eyes of both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.

    The rebuilding Reds, however, ultimately opted not to extend a $17.4MM one-year offer to Cozart due to a lack of a clear market for shortstops in free agency. Cincinnati apparently did not wish to risk Cozart accepting that offer and potentially bringing the team’s payroll north of $100MM before the offseason even began. Of course, the decision not to extent the QO also means that they’ll see one of the team’s best players walk without any form of compensation for his services.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Qualifying Offer Rumors: Monday]]> 2017-11-06T19:15:42Z 2017-11-06T19:15:09Z Teams have until 5pm ET tonight to issue one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offers to their impending free agents if they wish to recoup draft pick compensation in the event that their free agent(s) depart and sign elsewhere. Those unfamiliar with the process can refer back to a lengthy exploration of the QO system (penned by MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk), which was revamped last winter in the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement.

    For those looking for a Cliff’s Notes-esque refresher, here’s the QO system in a few sentences. MLB teams can issue a one-year offer worth the mean salary of the league’s 125 highest-paid players to an impending free agent in order to receive compensation in the next year’s draft. A player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and is eligible to receive a QO if and only if he spent the entire season with his club. Players that accept a QO are considered signed and cannot be traded until June 15 of the upcoming season. Players have 10 days to decide whether to accept or reject.

    The new CBA places the standard compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B — meaning it should fall somewhere between picks 70 to 80. Elements like revenue sharing, luxury tax penalization and size of the player’s new contract can all impact the placement of the comp pick, however. Teams that sign a player who rejected a QO will be required to forfeit at least one pick in the next year’s draft. Each team’s top pick is protected, but the placement of forfeited pick(s) is dependent on the luxury tax and revenue sharing. International pool money may also need to be forfeited. (Again, I’d highly recommend checking out Mark’s piece, in full, for more details.)

    Here are today’s rumors…

    •’s Jordan Bastian calls it a “safe bet” that the Indians will issue a qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana (Twitter link). The 31-year-old switch-hitter batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and career-best work at first base in 2017. While the market for corner bats hasn’t been great in recent years, Santana’s defensive improvements, power and longstanding reputation as one of baseball’s most patient hitters (career 15.2 percent walk rate) should serve him well on the open market even with draft-pick compensation attached to his name.

    Earlier Updates

    • Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is still unlikely to receive a qualifying offer, per FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). That’s been the direction in which Cincinnati has reportedly been leaning for the past couple of weeks, though’s Mark Sheldon hears that the Reds are still debating the QO for Cozart. Despite the Reds’ rebuilding status, it still seems surprising that they could let him walk for no compensation. Cozart had a breakout .297/.385/.548 season at the plate in 2017 and even in the two years prior was a roughly league-average bat with well-above average defense at shortstop. He should be able to top $17.4MM by a wide margin in free agency, and even if he accepts, he’d be a bargain at that rate. The Reds do already have $86MM worth of payroll commitments and arbitration projections for next season, but there are other areas (non-tenders, trades) that they could trim from the payroll if need be..
    • Some players — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Lance Lynn — have long seemed like locks to receive a QO. Alex Cobb, too, has stood out as a logical recipient, though the Rays’ payroll limitations at least cast some doubt on that possibility. Heyman reported last night that Cobb would receive a QO, and it’s been reported by multiple outlets that each member of that Royals trio will receive a QO as well.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Outright Patrick Kivlehan, Deck McGuire]]> 2017-11-03T19:35:17Z 2017-11-03T19:27:56Z The Reds announced Friday that infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan and right-hander Deck McGuire have been sent outright to Triple-A Louisville after clearing waivers. Both can elect minor league free agency. Cincinnati also reinstated lefty Brandon Finnegan and righty Anthony DeSclafani from the 60-day disabled list, so their 40-man roster remains at 33 players for the time being.

    Kivlehan, 28 next month, tallied a career-high 204 plate appearances but posted a bleak .208/.304/.399 batting line in that time. He showed some pop, hitting nine homers with five doubles and a triple, but the former Mariners/Rangers prospect also fanned in 30 percent of his plate appearances. Kivlehan has experience at both corner infield and outfield positions, and he’s a career .255/.308/.437 hitter in 223 Triple-A games.

    The 28-year-old McGuire is a known name to some thanks to his No. 11 overall selection out of Georgia Tech by the Blue Jays back in the 2010 draft. He’s yet to live up to that draft billing, struggling greatly in Triple-A for the Jays, Athletics, Dodgers and Cardinals before landing in the Reds organization this past winter.

    While McGuire spent the year in Double-A rather than the minors’ top level, he notched a strong 2.79 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 with a 38.8 percent ground-ball rate through 168 innings (27 starts). He made his MLB debut with the Reds in September, tossing 13 2/3 innings with 11-to-2 K/BB ratio and notching his first big league victory along the way.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Claim Zach Vincej From Reds]]> 2017-11-03T19:16:39Z 2017-11-03T19:13:10Z The Mariners announced that they’ve claimed infielder Zach Vincej off waivers from the Reds. Their 40-man roster now stands at 37 players.

    Vincej, 26, was the 1132nd pick of the 2012 draft — all the way down the board in the 37th round. He’s slowly risen through the minor league ranks and had a huge performance in last year’s Arizona Fall League before hitting .270/.325/.370 in his first taste of Triple-A this year. Vincej made his big league debut as a September call-up this season and went 1-for-9 with a walk and five strikeouts in just 12 plate appearances. He comes with a solid defensive reputation at shortstop but didn’t rank among Cincinnati’s top prospects. He’ll provide some middle infield depth for the Mariners if he sticks with the organization this offseason.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Marlins Decline Ichiro’s Option, Claim Chad Wallach From Reds]]> 2017-11-03T18:48:39Z 2017-11-03T18:18:20Z The Marlins announced that they’ve declined a $2MM club option on outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and also claimed catcher Chad Wallach off waivers from the Reds. The pair of moves leaves Miami’s 40-man roster count at 34 players.

    Ichiro, who turned 44 two weeks ago, will see his three-year tenure with the Marlins come to an end as the team’s new ownership begins to trim salary in a reported effort to shed $40-50MM off the payroll for 2018. The future Hall of Famer had a productive second year with the Marlins in 2016, hitting .291/.354/.376 in 365 trips to the plate. However, the 2017 season saw Ichiro receive the smallest amount of playing time he’s had in Miami — just 215 plate appearances — and resulted in a dreary .255/.318/.332 batting line.

    The 10-time All-Star is a Cooperstown lock, but he’s had just one season of above-average production (by measure of OPS+) in the past seven years. While it’s natural to wonder if the beloved Ichiro is nearing the end of his playing days, he recently told Tim Healey of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he’d continue to play until he’s “at least 50” if he continues getting opportunities. He may very well have to settle for a minor league pact this offseason, but it’s not out of the question that a team would look to bring the veteran into its outfield mix — particularly an NL club capable of carrying a deeper bench.

    Wallach, who will turn 26 tomorrow, was originally drafted by the Marlins in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. Miami shipped him and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani to the Reds in exchange for a one-year rental of Mat Latos in what now looks to be a lopsided deal (DeSclafani’s injury status notwithstanding).

    The son of former big league infielder Tim Wallach, Chad turned in a respectable .240/.363/.410 batting line in 243 Double-A plate appearances in 2016. However, his bat took a big step back in 2017 upon reaching Triple-A Louisville, where he batted just .226/.280/.398 and saw his strikeout rate jump nearly seven percent in the same number of PAs (243). He did make his MLB debut with the Reds in ’17, going 1-for-11 with a single and five strikeouts.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Reportedly "Leaving Heavily Against" QO For Cozart]]> 2017-11-01T03:10:55Z 2017-11-01T03:10:55Z Despite coming off a roughly five-win season, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart could face a difficult market in free agency, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Buchanan quotes an exec from the American League and another from the National League who suggested that Cozart would struggle to match even the three-year, $40MM pact attained by J.J. Hardy at a similar age three offseasons ago. A lack of contending teams in clear need of a shortstop is working against Cozart, as is the fact that he doesn’t have a track record of producing at his 2017 levels. An NL exec opined that Cozart could expand his market by adopting a super-utility role in which he started a couple of times per week at shortstop, second base and third base, though Buchanan notes that Cozart “feels strongly” about remaining a shortstop. Cincinnati is thought to be “leaning heavily against” a qualifying offer for Cozart, per Buchanan, which would certainly help his free-agent stock. From my view, it still seems likely that a team will ultimately see Cozart as too good a value not to find a spot for him at a certain point. It’s difficult to see his market falling below even the three-year, $33-36MM range, as even if he doesn’t replicate his 2017 excellence at the plate, he could still be reasonably expected to more than justify that level of commitment.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Central Notes: Morneau, Lenik, Bell]]> 2017-10-31T18:30:36Z 2017-10-31T18:30:36Z Veteran first baseman Justin Morneau isn’t calling it quits yet, officially, but it sounds as if he has largely accepted that he likely won’t suit up again in the majors. In the course of a great chat on the podcast of Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling of (audio link), Morneau says it seemed at points last spring and even into the season that he might have a shot at joining an organization. Ultimately, though, things simply “didn’t line up” for the 36-year-old, who says he wasn’t really “willing to go down to Triple-A and ride the bus” at this stage, given his family obligations. A 14-year MLB veteran, Morneau long starred with the Twins and played most recently with the White Sox. Though he showed in 2016 that he can still hit major league pitching, he acknowledges that it “doesn’t look like there’s a lot of opportunities” out there for the coming season. (That’s a topic that’s covered further in the podcast, which is well worth a listen.)

    Here are some notes from the central divisions:

    • The Royals face a variety of challenges this winter, with a need to bolster the bullpen likely among them. But the team does have an intriguing option on hand in indy ball find Kevin Lenik, writes Jeffrey Flanagan of The 26-year-old is showing a big fastball and generated strong results upon reaching Triple-A, where he pitched to a 1.88 ERA with 24 strikeouts and eight walks over 24 frames in a dozen outings. Assistant GM J.J. Picollo suggests it’s likely (albeit still undecided) that Lenik will receive an invitation to MLB camp.
    • Buddy Bell has left the White Sox front office to join that of the Reds, as Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports. Bell had served as an assistant GM in Chicago and will now function as a senior advisor to top Reds baseball decisionmaker Dick Williams. A long-time big leaguer and former MLB skipper, Bell drew kind words from White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on his way out the door. As Kuc notes, Bell has roots in Cincinnati and figures to make for a valuable addition to the organization’s front office.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Claim Micah Johnson, Designate Tim Federowicz]]> 2017-10-30T21:26:56Z 2017-10-30T20:45:43Z 4:18pm: San Francisco has designated catcher Tim Federowicz to open a 40-man spot, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.

    Federowicz, 30, was projected to command $1.3MM as a 3+ service-class player in arbitration. In theory, he could have been retained to serve as Buster Posey’s backup, with Nick Hundley qualifying for free agency, but clearly the Giants have other plans.

    Though he has seen time in six MLB seasons, Federowicz has only once taken more than a hundred plate appearances in a single campaign — his 2013 effort with the Dodgers. All told, he owns a .196/.245/.313 slash through 318 trips to the plate at the game’s highest level.

    At Triple-A last year, he hit a sturdy .300/.366/.463. Indeed, Federowicz owns a career .877 OPS through parts of seven seasons at the highest level of the minors. Still, he has yet to receive an extended look in the bigs.

    3:45pm: The Giants have claimed utilityman Micah Johnson off waivers from the Reds, as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. He had only recently landed in Cincinnati in a waiver claim from the Braves.

    Johnson, 26, has bounced around a fair bit in recent years, moving from the White Sox to the Dodgers and then on to Atlanta before starting the present offseason with a flurry. Along the way, his prospect star has generally waned, though perhaps it’s too soon to give up on a player that comes with some pedigree as a well-regarded prospect.

    Last year, Johnson did manage to produce a useful .289/.377/.400 batting line over 155 plate appearances at Triple-A. That represented an improvement on his ugly output at the highest level of the minors in the prior campaign. Johnson earned a brief stop in the majors for the third-straight season, but still has fairly minimal time there.

    Clearly, the speedy Indiana University product is still seen by teams as worthy of some ongoing opportunity. The Reds evidently hoped to slip him through waivers, only to see another team with a high-priority spot on the NL waiver wire grab him instead. It wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Johnson bounce around a few more times this winter as teams jockey for position with 40-man roster spots.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Reds Hire Buddy Bell For Front Office Advisory Role]]> 2017-10-29T23:10:52Z 2017-10-29T23:10:52Z The Reds have hired Buddy Bell for a senior advisor position in their front office,’s Mark Sheldon reports (Twitter link).  The team is expected to officially announce Bell’s hiring tomorrow.  Bell, who managed the Tigers, Rockies and Royals from 1996-2007, has been working in the White Sox front office for the last decade, most recently acting as Chicago’s assistant GM.  This will be Bell’s second stint in Cincinnati, as he played for the Reds from 1985-88 during his 18-year career in the big leagues.  The Bell family has long-standing ties in Cincinnati — Gus Bell (Buddy’s father) spent eight seasons with the Reds and is in the team’s Hall of Fame, while Buddy’s sons Mike and David also spent time with the Reds as a player and minor league manager, respectively.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds Scouted Jurickson Profar "At Length" ]]> 2017-10-28T15:36:43Z 2017-10-28T15:36:43Z
  • Rangers infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar could draw offseason trade interest from the Reds, Padres and other teams, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News observes. The Reds scouted Profar “at length” when he was at Triple-A this season, per Grant, who notes that Padres general manager and ex-Rangers executive A.J. Preller is already familiar with the former top prospect. The switch-hitting Profar, 24, spent most of 2017 in the minors, where he hit .287/.383/.428 in 383 plate appearances. He has been far less successful across 718 career major league PAs, having batted .229/.309/.329. Thanks to his underwhelming performance with the Rangers and his out-of-options status, Profar looks like a strong trade candidate heading into the winter.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Unlikely To Offer Zack Cozart Qualifying Offer]]> 2017-10-27T05:53:57Z 2017-10-27T05:18:43Z
  • First, the Rangers will have to decide upon a qualifying offer for righty Andrew Cashner. Despite some prior indications that the team might issue one, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports that’s not likely at this point. Similarly, says Heyman, the Reds are “leaning against” a QO for shortstop Zack Cozart — though the team is said to be willing to pursue a multi-year deal in free agency.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Claim Micah Johnson Off Waivers]]> 2017-10-26T19:01:30Z 2017-10-26T19:01:30Z The Braves announced Thursday that infielder/outfielder Micah Johnson has been claimed off waivers by the Reds. Cincinnati has plenty of open space on its 40-man roster, so a corresponding move isn’t needed to accommodate his addition.

    Once considered the second baseman of the future for the White Sox, Johnson went from Chicago to the Dodgers by way of the three-team trade that sent Todd Frazier to the Reds to the ChiSox. Johnson spent the 2016 season in the Dodgers’ organization but was flipped to Atlanta last January. He enjoyed a solid run with Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate, hitting .289/.377/.400 in a small sample of 155 plate appearances but also missed a significant portion of the year due to a fractured left wrist.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Could R.A. Dickey Fit With Reds?]]> 2017-10-24T21:02:50Z 2017-10-24T19:42:10Z
  • With Atlanta parting ways with R.A. Dickey, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer considers whether the veteran knuckler could make sense for the Reds. Dickey has indicated that Cincinnati is on a very short list of cities he’d consider playing in, given its proximity to his home in Nashville. But Rosecrans also suggests the Reds would likely not be willing to pay Dickey in quite the same range that the Braves did. The contract he signed last winter guaranteed $8MM, though he earned every penny with 190 innings of 4.26 ERA ball. That made it seem likely that the Braves would bring him back, with the move perhaps hinting that Dickey was already determined to hang up his spikes. Still, if there is some possibility of Dickey carrying on, the Reds would likely be wise to explore a deal with him as a means of addressing the team’s dearth of established rotation pieces.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Wandy Peralta Emerges As Key Reliever For Reds]]> 2017-10-24T05:32:33Z 2017-10-24T05:23:03Z
  • The Reds’ pitching staff has easily been the worst in baseball over the past two seasons, but there are certainly some useful pieces in place.’s Mark Sheldon takes a look at one such pitcher, southpaw reliever Wandy Peralta. The 26-year-old was a pleasant surprise in his rookie campaign, working to a 3.76 ERA in 64 2/3 frames with 7.9 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 to go with a 54.2% groundball rate. Peralta has a diverse slate of pitch offerings — a pair of big fastballs along with a slider and change — that he utilized nearly equally in 2017. Given the number of questions marks among Cincinnati hurlers, hopes are obviously high that Peralta will continue to cement his status as a solid bullpen asset.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Elected Free Agency: Siegrist, Edgin, Hutchison, Locke, Bolsinger, Van Slyke, Maness]]> 2017-10-23T20:42:38Z 2017-10-23T20:28:21Z The indispensable Matt Eddy of Baseball America provides an overview of a vast number of players electing free agency following the 2017 season in his latest Minor Transactions roundup. Eddy largely focuses on players with big league service time (significant service time, in some cases) that were outrighted off the roster that are now hitting the open market for the first time. (Players with three-plus years of service that are not on the 40-man roster at season’s end can elect free agency, as can any player that has been outrighted on multiple occasions in his career.)

    While the vast majority of these players seem likely to sign minor league pacts this winter — they did, after all, go unclaimed by 29 other teams on waivers — a number of them are still intriguing with recent success in their past and/or multiple years of arbitration eligibility remaining. Eddy’s rundown also contains a number of re-signed minor leaguers and released minor leaguers without big league experience as well as Arizona Fall League assignments on a per-team basis, so it’s well worth a full look.

    We’ve updated our list of 2017-18 MLB free agents accordingly, and here are some of the new names now checking in on the list…

    Depth options in the rotation

    Josh Collmenter, Asher Wojciechowski, Drew Hutchison, Jeff Locke, Kyle Kendrick, Mike Bolsinger, Christian Bergman, David Holmberg

    Collmenter is just two seasons removed from being the D-backs Opening Day starter but hasn’t had much success of late. Hutchison had solid Triple-A numbers and once looked like a long-term rotation piece in Toronto before Tommy John surgery. He can be controlled for another three seasons in arbitration. Locke was injured for most of an ugly first (and likely only) season in Miami, and Kendrick made just two starts for the Red Sox.

    Wojciechowski (6.50 ERA in 62 1/3 innings with the Reds), Bolsinger (6.31 ERA in 41 1/3 innings with the Jays), Bergman (5.00 ERA in 54 innings with the Mariners) and Holmberg (4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings with the White Sox) all soaked up innings for injury-plagued pitching staffs. Bolsinger has had the most MLB experience of the bunch.

    Corner Bats

    Scott Van Slyke, Tyler Moore, Cody Asche, Conor Gillaspie, Jaff Decker

    Van Slyke has long been a solid bat against left-handed pitching but appeared in just 29 games with the Dodgers and didn’t hit well with their Triple-A affiliate or with the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate. (He was included in the Tony Cingrani trade to balance out the financial side of the deal.) Moore, also a right-handed bat, showed power but struggled to get on base.

    Once one of the Phillies’ top prospects, Asche hit well in Triple-A Charlotte but flopped in a brief stint with the ChiSox. Gillaspie was unable to replicate his 2016 rebound with the Giants, while Decker showed some on-base skills in the Majors and minors but didn’t hit much overall. (He can play center but hasn’t graded well there in the Majors.)

    Utility Infielders

    Ruben Tejada, Phil Gosselin, Dusty Coleman, Chase d’Arnaud

    Each of the four can play all over the diamond, but none provided offensive value in 2017. Tejada has the most big league experience but hasn’t received much playing time since 2015 (and hasn’t performed well when he has gotten opportunities). Gosselin has a solid defensive reputation but a light bat through 551 MLB PAs. Coleman hit four homers in 71 PAs in his MLB debut this year but logged a .268 OBP. d’Arnaud saw his fair share of 2016 action with the Braves but has never produced much at the plate.

    Bullpen options

    Kevin Siegrist (L), Josh Edgin (L), Seth Maness, Kevin Quackenbush

    Siegrist and Edgin are intriguing names for clubs in need of left-handed bullpen help. Both have recent success on their track records, though Edgin wasn’t as sharp in 2017 as he was prior to 2015 Tommy John surgery. Siegrist’s control eroded in 2017 as he missed time due to a back/spinal injury and tendinitis in his left forearm, but he was one of the Cardinals’ top setup options in both 2015 and 2016. Both lefties are controllable through 2019.

    Maness drew headlines for returning from a torn UCL in roughly seven months thanks to an experimental new “primary repair” procedure, but while he stayed healthy in 2017, the results weren’t great in the Majors and especially not in Triple-A (6.13 ERA in 47 innings). Quackenbush was excellent as a rookie in 2014 and solid in 2015-16 before imploding in 2017 (7.86 ERA in 26 1/3 innings). He was better but not great in Triple-A (3.90 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9). Maness could be controlled through 2019, while Quackenbush would have three more years of control.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Cincinnati Reds]]> 2017-10-24T05:42:57Z 2017-10-21T16:53:35Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams.  Click here for the other entries in this series.

    After a somewhat average first half, the Cincinnati Reds collapsed after the All-Star break and ultimately finished last in the NL Central. The result was a second consecutive 68-94 record and a fourth consecutive losing season. The organization will now need to answer some tough questions, including what they’ll do to improve a historically bad pitching staff, and whether or not they ought to try and sell off some established players like Billy Hamilton.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLB Trade Rumors)

    Free Agents

    Cincinnati Reds Depth ChartCincinnati Reds Payroll Overview

    With about $68.7MM tied up in payroll commitments for the upcoming season, along with $18MM in projected arbitration salaries, the Cincinnati Reds face limited retooling options for their 2018 roster. Unfortunately for Cincinnati fans, it seems as though the small-market Reds have more holes to fill on their roster than space in the budget. Top prospect Nick Senzel is likely to contribute at some point next season (according to comments made by GM Dick Williams), but he’d only fill a hole in the lineup left by Zack Cozart, who will either depart or become expensive to retain. Within a fiercely competitive division that includes four other teams pushing to contend, it’s unlikely that a few cheap patches will vault the Reds into contention within the NL Central.

    Williams has stated that the team is interested in discussing a new deal with Cozart, but the Reds won’t be the only team vying for his services. The Rays, Royals, and Padres are all in need of a shortstop for the long-term. The Orioles could take a look as well, considering incumbent Tim Beckham’s horrid September and relative uncertainty. There are plenty of teams that would be interested in using him at second base as well. His .297/.385/.548 slash line this past season and solid defense made Cozart the fourth-most valuable shortstop in baseball by fWAR. Even if the Reds are willing to shell out the cash needed to keep their All-Star shortstop, there’s still the chance he’d rather play with a more likely contender. If Cozart ends up elsewhere, former top prospect Jose Peraza seems like the best bet to take his place at short.

    The first decision the Reds will need to make on Cozart this offseason will be whether or not to issue him a $17.4MM qualifying offer. The rules are different overall this season, but the implications for Cozart and the Reds would likely remain the same. Because the Reds received revenue sharing in 2017, they would gain a compensatory draft pick after the first round of the 2018 draft next June, if Cozart signs a contract with another team worth at least $50MM. The additional pick (and corresponding slot money) would be a great asset to the club’s rebuild. But for the Reds and their limited payroll space, $17.4MM could end up severely handcuffing them in a non-contending season. That salary, along with guaranteed contracts, arbitration projections and league minimum salaries for the rest of the roster, would push their payroll north of $111MM for 2018, which would fall just $4MM short of their 2015 club record payroll. Such a high payroll could hurt the organization’s capacity to fill other holes on the roster through free agency. With Peraza waiting as a shortstop option with some upside, there’s at least a small chance the Reds could decide not to take the risk of giving Cozart a QO.

    Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan should be healthy enough in time for spring training to join Luis Castillo and Homer Bailey in a rotation that struggled mightily last year; Reds starters allowed the most homers in baseball and finished with the second-highest ERA and walk rate. Robert Stephenson, Rookie Davis, Cody Reed, Tim Adleman, Amir Garrett and top prospect Tyler Mahle are internal options for the fifth spot in the rotation if the Reds don’t sign anyone. It seems highly unlikely that they’ll be involved in the bidding for a top-tier starter due to their limited payroll space. There’s a chance they could give a three- or four-year contract to a number two or three starter type, but even that seems like a stretch given the risks involved and the fact that they aren’t likely to make the playoffs in the near future. Instead, they might end up exploring veteran options like Jaime Garcia and Andrew Cashner who have some upside and could eat innings for Cincinnati on less expensive contracts.

    Outside of Raisel Iglesias, the Reds’ bullpen is still a disaster. After being so bad that they literally set records in 2016, their relievers combined to post the fourth-worst ERA in the majors this past year. 16 relievers pitched at least ten innings for Cincinnati this season, and nobody outside of Iglesias contributed more than 0.50 Win Probability Added (WPA). They’re likely to sign a couple of veterans in free agency, but it’ll be like trying to cover a bullet wound with a band-aid. It’s likely that we’ll see the Reds once again churn through a large number of relievers in hopes that someone will develop into a reliable setup option. Michael Lorenzen will be worth watching; he showed some promise as a multi-inning reliever before collapsing to the tune of a 6.32 ERA in the second half.

    Even the lineup isn’t a true strength. Cincinnati finished middle of the pack in most offensive categories, even while playing in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball. Most of that lineup will be coming back, but it seems like the Reds will have to hope that high-pedigree hitters Peraza and Jesse Winker can take big steps forward. Even then, it’s not a sure bet that Scooter Gennett and Scott Schebler will be able to replicate their 2017 breakout performances. On-base engine Joey Votto will anchor the lineup, but they’d need a lot to break right around him in order to consistently keep up with the runs their pitching staff is likely to allow.

    Should the Reds decide to double down on their rebuild, they do have some assets that could help them further strengthen their farm system. Billy Hamilton and Gennett become free agents after the 2019 season. Neither is likely to play October baseball with the Reds before then; many of Cincinnati’s best prospects are still at least two years away, and the money owed to Bailey won’t make things easy on their payroll during that time. I already wrote about a few potential trade partners for Hamilton. Finding a partner for Gennett wouldn’t be too difficult; he’s capable of playing second, third and left field and is coming off the best offensive season of his career (though his continued struggles against lefties could limit his market).

    Iglesias is another piece who could bring back a significant haul… recent deals for high-end relievers like Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and Ken Giles have all brought back top 100 prospects to the selling teams. Though Iglesias hasn’t yet established himself to the level of Miller or Chapman, it’s easy to see him fetching a return similar to that of Giles.

    Breakout infielder Eugenio Suarez could fetch a good return as well. However, since Iglesias and Suarez are both under control for another three seasons, they’re less likely to be traded. Joey Votto could be a trade asset, but his contract has a full no-trade clause, and he’s plainly stated that he doesn’t plan on waiving it.

    There’s certainly no guarantee that the Reds will end up trading away Hamilton or Gennett. But if they do, they could look to fill holes in the center and the infield. Phil Ervin and Dilson Herrera are next on the depth chart respectively, but there are some free agent fill-in options as well. Jarrod Dyson, Cameron Maybin and Rajai Davis are examples of free agent center fielders that might get a close look should Hamilton change uniforms. There are a few free agent veterans that could be candidates to fill in as a stopgap at second base until Senzel is ready to take a spot on the big league roster if the team decides to move Gennett, but it seems more likely they would look at internal options or waiver claims.

    One big question for the Reds this offseason is whether or not they’ll attempt to unload Bailey’s contract. It’s likely they’d need to eat a significant portion of it even if they do manage to trade him, but it’s possible that a big-budget team might be willing to take a chance on the expensive right-hander. The Phillies, for example, have a lot of payroll space and could afford to take a chance on Bailey rebounding and reestablishing some value. However, it would be difficult to convince any team to take on more than $10MM of his contract. With his value at a low point, the Reds might be best served to open the season with him in the rotation, and hope he can bounce back a bit before the trade deadline. At the very least, he’s better than most of the internal options behind him, and they’d likely spend at least some money on a free agent starter if they traded him, anyway.

    It’s difficult to imagine the Reds making any major splashes in free agency. They’ll might sign one or two cheap veteran relievers, but that’s not going to simply fix their bullpen. Perhaps they’ll explore the market for starting pitchers, but unless they manage to retain Cozart, they probably won’t dole out significant money to land a big-name player. Instead, we’ll probably see them make some pitching acquisitions via waiver claim and maybe even the Rule 5 Draft, the latter depending on whether or not they choose to sell off some key pieces.

    While the odds are stacked against the Reds posting a winning season in 2018, there are some high-end prospects in their minor league system that are worth being excited about. The next few seasons could prove tough for Cincinnati fans if the Reds choose to have a fire sale, but there’s plenty of upside in the organization, both at the major league level and down on the farm. So, will the Reds tear down their roster even further to supplement that talent? If not, to what extent will they attempt to push through their disadvantages in an effort to win? The Reds’ offseason will be a fun one to track.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Peraza Prepping For Shortstop Role In Winter Ball]]> 2017-10-20T16:07:25Z 2017-10-20T16:07:25Z
  • Jose Peraza is already playing winter ball in Venezuela as he prepares for the possibility of an everyday role as the Reds’ shortstop in 2018, writes’s Mark Sheldon. While there’s still a chance that Zack Cozart could be back in Cincinnati next season, Peraza is the favorite to take over the position if Cozart receives more lucrative offers elsewhere. Peraza is currently the top internal option at short, Sheldon notes, and the fleet-footed 23-year-old tells Sheldon that he plans to get as many reps at shortstop as he can this winter in order to work on his defense there. Peraza has bounced between short, second base and the outfield with the Reds and didn’t rate favorably there in the estimation of Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, though focusing on one position could of course help to improve those results.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brandon Finnegan Expects To Be Healthy For Spring Training]]> 2017-10-17T18:21:28Z 2017-10-17T00:26:12Z
  • Reds southpaw Brandon Finnegan, who made just four starts this season due to trouble in both shoulders, tells’s Mark Sheldon that he has “completely” healed and is anticipating a normal offeason and Spring Training. “I’ve got more rotation in my right shoulder than I had before I got hurt,” said Finnegan. “That’s a good thing. I’ll start working out in November and throwing in December. I’ll keep up with my running, and that’s it.” Finnegan twice suffered a strained teres major muscle in his throwing shoulder and also was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder after an off-the-field fall in July. The Reds will be counting on the 24-year-old former first-rounder to come back healthy, alongside righties Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey, to help stabilize the rotation.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds’ GM On Cozart, Young Players, Rebuild]]> 2017-10-17T01:36:30Z 2017-10-16T16:22:42Z Reds president of baseball operations and general manager Dick Williams sat down with C. Trent Rosecrans and Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer for an excellent, lengthy Q&A covering a number of topics pertaining to the Reds’ upcoming offseason and ongoing rebuild.

    Of most interest, perhaps, was the fact that Williams was straightforward in stating that he planned to “continue to talk” to Zack Cozart about the possibility of re-signing the shortstop. The 32-year-old Cozart is up for free agency for the first time in his career, and while his age might not necessarily align with the rebuilding Reds’ timeline to contend, he’s one of the team’s longest-tenured players and is fresh off a career year at the plate. In 507 plate appearances, he hit .297/.385/.548 with a career-high 24 homers and a dramatically improved walk rate (to say nothing of his typically excellent glovework at shortstop).

    The Reds will face a tough decision on Cozart, who seems to at the very least be a candidate for a $17.4MM qualifying offer. (MLBTR readers were split about 55-45 in favor of the Reds giving him a QO in early September.) If Cozart isn’t retained, though, it doesn’t sound as if the Reds’ top priority would be to delve into the free-agent or trade markets to attempt to replace him.

    “[T]he primary candidate would be (Jose) Peraza,” said Williams when discussing a replacement for Cozart, if needed. “We believe that he showed at the end of ’16 with an extended look that this is a young, athletic, talented player. He’s still one of the youngest guys on our roster. … This year, we really asked him to move around a decent amount. I think that made it a little tougher on him than if he settled in at one spot.”

    Peraza is, as Williams suggests, still somewhat of a work in progress. Although he’s spent the bulk of the past two seasons in the Major Leagues, Peraza won’t even turn 24 until April 30 of next year. The former top 100 prospect demonstrated a good deal of promise with an impressive .324/.352/.411 batting line and 21 steals in 72 games last year, but he struggled for the majority of the 2017 campaign before turning things around in the season’s last couple of months. In Peraza’s final 48 games (31 starts), he batted .293/.361/.338 with just 18 strikeouts in 149 plate appearances.

    [Related: Cincinnati Reds depth chart and payroll outlook]

    Williams did go on to state that while he believes Eugenio Suarez to be capable of playing shortstop, he likes Suarez at third base and would like to have two additional players on the roster that can handle shortstop regularly. Conceivably, that could mean a re-signed Cozart and Peraza, or Peraza and a veteran bench option with experience at the shortstop position as well.

    More broadly, Williams didn’t reject the notion that top prospect and former No. 2 overall pick Nick Senzel could play in the Majors next season, though it doesn’t sound as if the team will rush him out of Spring Training. Senzel, according to Williams, is capable of playing second, third, shortstop and perhaps even the outfield corners, but the team is reluctant to bounce him around the diamond too much. Second base seems to be a position at which he’ll get a look, as the Reds have Suarez thriving at the hot corner presently.

    Senzel raked at a .321/.391/.514 clip in 507 PAs between Class-A Advanced and Double-A last year, mashing his way through the Southern League to the point that many expect him to begin the 2018 season in Triple-A. Scooter Gennett, of course, gives the team another option at second base, though with just two years of club control remaining, I’d imagine that the Reds wouldn’t have many qualms about ultimately moving him if and when Senzel proves ready (though that’s just my own speculation).

    Williams also spoke at length about the struggles of several of the Reds’ young pitchers in 2017, noting the lack of innings most of the team’s young starters were able to log in Triple-A. Injuries to Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Homer Bailey forced Cincinnati to tap into its reservoir of young pitchers more often than the team would’ve liked. Jesse Winker is also discussed quite a bit, with Williams hinting that he’s intrigued by Winker’s high-OBP skill set as a potential top-of-the-order option. Just 24 years old, Winker hit .298/.375/.529 with seven homers, a 10.9 percent walk rate and a 17.5 percent strikeout rate in 137 big league plate appearances.

    While no one should expect the Reds to shell out top dollar in free agency this winter, the GM does suggest that he’ll have some money to spend and that the team’s list of targets is a broad one, including some players looking to move from Japan over to the Major League (and more than just the highly publicized Shohei Otani). The entire Q&A is (obviously) stuffed with quotes from Cincinnati’s top baseball ops executive and is well worth a full read for Reds fans and non-Reds fans alike. Williams gives plenty of insight into where he feels the team is at in its rebuild, his own thoughts on his first year as a general manager and the team’s approach in the upcoming offseason.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Looking For A Match In A Billy Hamilton Trade]]> 2017-10-16T04:21:20Z 2017-10-16T02:08:59Z After a second consecutive 68-94 season, the Cincinnati Reds’ rebuilding process still has no clear end in sight. Complicating things further for the organization are the facts that they already owe $68.7MM in guaranteed contracts to five players for the 2018 season, and $56.6MM to four players in 2019. Although the organization has shown a willingness to spend in the past, they aren’t exactly a large-market payroll juggernaut, so it stands to reason that the Cincinnati front office is unlikely to spend big across the next two seasons in order to compete for a pennant amidst a highly competitive NL Central division.

    Enter Billy Hamilton. A free agent at the end of the 2019 season, the speed demon will probably reach the open market before October baseball returns to Cincinnati. It makes perfect sense, then, that the Reds might seek to explore the trade market for their fleet-footed center fielder.

    MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers

    The 27-year old’s value is largely tied up in his legs. Statcast’s sprint speed leaderboard ranks Hamilton as the second-fastest sprinter in the game (behind Minnesota’s Byron Buxton), while Fangraphs rated his defense third-best among qualifying center fielders in 2017. He’s stolen at least 56 bases in each of his four full seasons at the major league level, and has routinely created runs by through aggressive base running.

    The well-known achilles heel of Hamilton’s game has always been his terrible offensive output. Despite tremendous speed down the first base line, Hamilton owns a putrid career .248/.298/.338 batting line across 2,180 plate appearances at the major league level, good for a 71 wRC+ since his promotion in September of 2013.

    So, when exploring potential suitors for Hamilton, it makes the most sense to start with teams that have a dire need for a defensive upgrade in center field. It’s also worth noting that Hamilton’s base running skills aren’t as useful to teams that rely heavily on the home run ball, such as the Rays, Athletics and Yankees.

    With the above factors in mind, the Giants could be a particularly good match. AT&T Park’s outfield is particularly large, making it difficult for their hitters to put runs on the board via the long ball. Hamilton’s base running prowess would surely be a great asset to a team that finished dead last in baseball with 128 homers, but ranked 8th-best in contact rate. What’s more, San Francisco center fielders ranked as the third-worst defensive group in all of baseball via Fangraphs’ defensive metric. Hamilton would provide a considerable upgrade over that of the aging Denard Span.

    Similarly, the Dodgers’ pitching staff could benefit from having Hamilton manning center field in the pitcher-friendly Dodgers Stadium, with Chris Taylor sliding to second base. The Royals could be on the lookout for a center field option if they don’t retain Lorenzo Cain. Hamilton could provide an overall upgrade for the Brewers over the strikeout-plagued Keon Broxton, though they’re more likely to see what they have in Lewis Brinson before looking to external options.

    Though Hamilton’s lifetime fWAR of 10.6 pegs him as only a slightly above-average player for his major league career, his skill set is unique. He could fill a hole for many major league clubs, and there’s a good chance he could help fortify the Reds’ farm system while they continue to rebuild.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[DeSclafani Throws Seven Innings In Instructs]]> 2017-10-11T13:59:45Z 2017-10-11T00:06:37Z
  • In some other notable injury news, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets that Reds righty Anthony DeSclafani threw seven innings in an instructional league start today. That could be DeSclafani’s final start of instructional league play, though it’s nonetheless a positive step for a key part of the Cincinnati pitching staff after missing the entire 2017 season. DeSclafani was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament early in the year and was never able to make it back to a Major League mound during the regular season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rookie Davis Undergoes Hip Surgery]]> 2017-10-09T22:16:13Z 2017-10-09T22:16:13Z Reds right-hander Rookie Davis has undergone surgery on his right hip, per a club announcement (h/t’s Mark Sheldon, on Twitter). Specifically, repair work was done to the labrum and a bone spur was removed.

    The procedure is a rather significant one, it seems. Davis will have an entire winter to rest and rehab, but the team says he is not expected to be ready to begin spring camp with the rest of the roster in mid-February.

    With the news, it seems the Reds will have one less early-season rotation option on hand. Presumably, though, Davis will work back up to strength at some point during the 2018 campaign. Regardless, adding some pitching depth likely remains the Reds’ top priority this winter.

    Though the 24-year-old Davis was perhaps not a leading candidate to claim one of the five rotation spots, he surely would have had an opportunity to compete for a job during camp. And given the organization’s views on pitching usage — including a focus on multi-inning relievers — it certainly stands to reason that Davis would have had a chance of earning a significant role of some kind out of the gates.

    Instead, the youngster will have a chance to iron out some pitching kinks even as he rebuilds strength in his hip. He struggled to an 8.63 ERA over his first 24 major-league frames in 2017. But Davis did show better at Triple-A, where he worked to a 4.43 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.

    Notably, Davis will accrue MLB service while he’s on the 60-day DL since he ended the season on the big-league roster. Cincinnati will still control him for the foreseeable future, leaving plenty of time for the club to recoup some value from one of the four players received in the 2015 Aroldis Chapman trade. (Among the others, only Eric Jagielo remains with the organization; he has struggled in the upper minors and has yet to reach the bigs.)

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Royals, Reds, Jose Ramirez]]> 2017-10-08T01:10:51Z 2017-10-07T16:59:20Z Via Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, Royals GM Dayton Moore details the elements of an uncertain offseason for Kansas City. The organization will go “one of two ways”, according to Moore. The first option is obvious; the club could choose to “gut the team” in a complete teardown, saving money and going for high draft picks. But Moore does detail an ambitious alternative: trying to retain their free agent stars. Everybody assumes that we are just going to just get blown away in free agency, and we don’t have a chance,” he tells Dodd. “They may be right, but I think everybody felt that way about Alex Gordon at the time. That fell back to us. You just never really know.” Indeed, there are rumblings that one of the Royals’ biggest offseason priorities will be to retain star first baseman Eric Hosmer. But with the 2017 Royals’ payroll setting a franchise record for the fifth consecutive year while delivering a losing season, Moore does make one blunt concession. “It’s very clear to us that we need to get younger and more athletic. We’re going to continue with that mindset as we go forward into the future.”

    More from baseball’s central divisions…

    • Ken Rosenthal details the elements of a bittersweet postseason for Reds scouting director Chris Buckley in a piece for The Athletic (subscription required and recommended). Seven players originally signed by the Reds are currently playing October baseball with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, including infielders Didi Gregorius and Justin Turner. While the presence of former Cincinnati signees gives Buckley a clear rooting interest, it also evokes painful memories of the two scouts he lost to cancer in recent years.
    • David Waldstein of the New York Times tells the fascinating story of how superstar infielder Jose Ramirez first came to the Indians. According to Waldstein, Ramon Pena (then an international scout for Cleveland) attended a three-game showcase in the Dominican Republic largely to gawk at invitees Jorge Alfaro and Martin Peguero, but noticed Ramirez playing with surprising confidence and determination. During a subsequent telephone call with a local trainer who represented the players, Pena was focused on trying to sign Alfaro. When he learned that Alfaro was asking for $1.5 million, the conversation shifted to Ramirez. Pena eventually talked the trainer down from $300,000 all the way to $50,000. After an agreement was in place, however, Pena was unable to gather the papers required for Ramirez to play in the United States, so he sat out the 2010 season and instead spent the year working out at the Indians’ facility in Boca Chica. The team managed to get Ramirez’ papers in order in time for the 2011 season, and Ramirez sped through the minor leagues, making his MLB debut just two years later.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Notes: Otani, Rookie Affiliate]]> 2017-10-05T16:28:38Z 2017-10-05T13:46:17Z Reds general manager Dick Williams was on hand to witness what might have been right-hander Shohei Otani’s final start in Nippon Professional Baseball, reports C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Otani didn’t disappoint, as he held the Orix Buffaloes to just two hits while racking up 10 strikeouts in a masterful shutout. Per Rosecrans, the Reds have legitimate interest in signing Otani despite the fact that they’re prohibited from signing an international amateur — and Otani does qualify as an amateur under MLB’s 2017-21 CBA despite significant pro experience in Japan — for more than $300K. Otani’s decision to leave well over $100MM on the table to jump to MLB this offseason instead of two years from now suggests that money isn’t his ultimate motivation, thus giving Cincinnati and other clubs in the international “penalty box” some degree of hope. That said, Rosecrans notes that Cincinnati is still a long shot to sign Otani, who may land in the AL where he can serve as a DH when not pitching.

    • The Reds have decided to add a lower-level affiliate, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The Cincinnati organization will own and operate a ballclub in the Appalachian League, taking the open slot for a team in Greeneville, Tennessee. Jumping on this opportunity was part of a longstanding effort to add another lower-level affiliate, Buchanan notes.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 10/4/17]]> 2017-10-05T02:42:53Z 2017-10-05T02:42:53Z Here are the day’s minor moves:

    • Righty Rob Wooten tweets that he has agreed to a new deal with the Reds for the 2018 season. Presumably, it’s a minor-league deal. The 32-year-old had joined Cincinnati on a minors pact for the 2017 season, but only made six Triple-A appearances before going down with injury. Despite previously working almost exclusively from the bullpen, Wooten was starting before he was hurt. He racked up an impressive 26:5 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 frames, but also allowed 18 earned runs on 34 hits. Wooten will attempt to work back to the majors for the first time since 2015; he has compiled 68 total frames of 5.03 ERA pitching at the game’s highest level, spread over three seasons.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Outright Asher Wojciechowski, Alejandro Chacin, Nick Travieso]]> 2017-10-04T18:55:30Z 2017-10-04T18:31:21Z The Reds announced that they’ve outrighted right-handers Asher Wojciechowski, Alejandro Chacin and Nick Travieso off the 40-man roster after each of the three cleared waivers. Cincinnati also announced that righty Luke Farrell failed to clear waivers and was claimed by the division-rival Cubs. The cuts drop Cincinnati’s 40-man roster to a total of 36 players.

    Wojciechowski, 28, logged the most time with the Reds this season, soaking up 62 1/3 innings for an injury-marred Reds staff that was one of the worst collective units in all of baseball. In his 25 appearances (eight of them starts), Wojciechowski was hit hard, logging a 6.50 earned run average. While his 9.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 marks were solid, Wojciechowski was one of the more extreme fly-ball pitchers in baseball, inducing grounders at just a 29.1 percent clip as compared to a 51.1 percent fly-ball rate. While the 15.1 percent of Wojciechowski’s fly-balls that turned into homers is certainly an above-average rate, it’s not exorbitant by 2017 standards (league average was 13.7 percent). However, the sheer volume of fly-balls surrendered by Wojciechowski led to far too many long balls.

    Chacin, 24, only pitched six innings for the Reds after having his contract selected in late August. The 24-year-old did post a 2.60 ERA through 69 1/3 innings of Triple-A ball this year, though, averaging 8.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 with a 42.1 percent ground-ball clip in Louisville. That solid but not dominant performance apparently wasn’t enough to get him a look on another club’s 40-man roster, though, and he’ll now be able to explore other opportunities in minor league free agency.

    The outright of Travieso is an unfortunate outcome for a player whom the Reds selected with the 14th overall pick of the 2012 draft. Travieso entered the year as a candidate to make his MLB debut at some point in 2017, but as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported back in June, he required shoulder surgery that will sideline him for nine months. Travieso didn’t throw a pitch in the minors this year, though he did log a 3.84 ERA in 117 1/3 innings in Double-A as a 22-year-old last season.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Claim Luke Farrell From Reds, Designate Felix Pena]]> 2017-10-04T18:40:11Z 2017-10-04T18:28:48Z The Cubs announced Wednesday that they’ve claimed right-hander Luke Farrell off waivers from the Reds and designated righty Felix Pena for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

    Farrell, whose father manages the Boston Red Sox, made his big league debut with the Royals in 2017 but has bounced from Kansas City to the Dodgers to the Reds to the Cubs in minor trades and waiver claims over the past several months. His lone outing in Kansas City produced nightmarish results (five runs on seven hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings), but he enjoyed better success in a larger sample with Cincinnati. In 10 1/3 innings as a Red, he allowed three runs on just five hits, though he also walked seven in that time. Overall, Farrell’s first taste of the big leagues resulted in a 5.54 ERA and a 9-to-10 K/BB ratio in 13 innings.

    Farrell has, however, produced solid Triple-A results in 2016-17, working to a combined 3.83 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and roughly a 36 percent ground-ball rate in 199 2/3 innings. He has a pair of minor league options remaining beyond this season, so if the Cubs choose to keep him on the roster this winter, they could option him to Triple-A Iowa next spring without first exposing him to waivers. Alternatively, the Cubs could try to pass Farrell through waivers themselves in hopes of retaining his arm as a depth piece without the need of committing a 40-man roster spot.

    The 27-year-old Pena, meanwhile, averaged 93.4 mph on his heater in 34 1/3 innings with the Cubs this year. He also averaged a hearty 9.7 K/9 against a more troublesome 4.7 BB/9 and a sub-par 34.7 percent ground-ball rate en route to a 5.24 earned run average.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Buchanan On Iglesias' Arbitration Decision]]> 2017-09-27T23:12:06Z 2017-09-27T23:12:06Z
  • While many (myself included) have assumed that Reds closer Raisel Iglesias will opt into arbitration this offseason, as is his contractual right under the terms of his seven-year $27MM contract, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer explains that the scenario isn’t as likely as it seems. Iglesias’ deal with the Reds allows him to opt into arbitration in any offseason in which he is eligible, meaning he’ll have the opportunity to opt into arbitration next winter even if he forgoes that opportunity this winter. Under the current terms of his deal, Iglesias is guaranteed $4.5MM in 2018, Buchanan notes. While he could potentially make a bit more than that as a first-time arb player on the heels of a strong season as a closer, he’d be forfeiting the remaining $10MM on his contract to do so. By waiting until next offseason, he’d sacrifice only minimal earning power and protect himself against an injury or unexpected decline in 2018.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Bronson Arroyo To Retire]]> 2017-09-24T13:31:27Z 2017-09-24T13:31:27Z Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo has decided to retire, according to reports from Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. The Reds honored the 40-year-old Arroyo before and after their game Saturday against the Red Sox, one of his former teams.

    Bronson Arroyo

    “It feels now like my senior year in high school and I’m ready to get out,” Arroyo said. “I’m honestly ready to go.”

    Injuries derailed Arroyo’s career in recent seasons and prevented him from taking the mound after June 18 this year, making his choice to walk away from the game unsurprising.

    Arroyo underwent Tommy John surgery as a member of the Diamondbacks in 2014, causing him to miss all of 2015, and was unable to earn a spot with the Nationals entering the 2016 season thanks in part to a torn rotator cuff. He returned to the Reds, with whom he pitched from 2006-13, on a minor league deal last offseason. While Arroyo improbably earned a spot in the Reds’ rotation in the spring, he dealt with shoulder problems that limited him to 71 innings of 7.35 ERA ball in his final season.

    Despite his health issues over the past few years, Arroyo enjoyed an eminently successful career as a reliable innings eater. He entered the pro ranks as a third-round pick of the Pirates in 1995 and ultimately broke out with the Red Sox, who claimed him off waivers from Pittsburgh in 2003. With his memorable leg kick, Arroyo emerged as a quality starter in 2004 for a Boston team that came back from a 3-0 deficit in the American League Championship Series to stun the archrival Yankees and then sweep the Cardinals in the World Series to end an 86-year title drought for the Sox franchise. Arroyo spun 178 2/3 frames of 4.03 ERA pitching that regular season and figured prominently in a controversial playoff moment when the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez slapped the ball out of his glove in Game 6 of the ALCS.

    Arroyo lasted another season with the Red Sox before joining the Reds in a trade for outfielder Wily Mo Pena. Then-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein came to regret his decision to part with the popular, effective Arroyo, as Silverman writes.

    “(Epstein’s) told me a few times (about the mistake),” Arroyo said. “The most prominent time was ’06, just before the All-Star break. He called me and said, ‘Bronson, I just want to tell you you’re having a fantastic year, and I can’t walk down the street without somebody screaming out of the car, ‘Why in the hell did you trade Arroyo?’ ”

    Boston’s loss was a major gain for Cincinnati, which was the beneficiary of eight workhorse seasons from Arroyo, who totaled no fewer than 199 innings in each campaign and was part of three playoff teams in the Queen City. In 2006, his first year with the Reds, Arroyo posted a career-high 240 2/3 frames and a personal-best 3.29 ERA en route to his sole All-Star selection. In total, he logged a 4.05 ERA over 1,690 1/3 innings in his first stint with the Reds, parlaying that success into a two-year, $23.5MM deal with the Diamondbacks.

    Arroyo was technically a member of six major league organizations – both the Braves and Dodgers acquired him in trades when he was on the shelf in 2015 – but pitched for four in a career that spanned 2,435 2/3 innings. He recorded a 148-127 win-loss record and a 4.28 ERA, to go with 25.8 rWAR and 24.0 fWAR, and earned nearly $82MM in the big leagues.

    MLBTR congratulates Arroyo on a terrific career and wishes him the best in retirement.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Eugenio Suarez Open To Extension With Reds]]> 2017-09-23T21:58:45Z 2017-09-23T21:58:45Z Eugenio Suarez is “open for everything” in terms of discussing an extension with the Reds,’s Mark Sheldon reports.  Suarez will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, though he’s still focused on the season and not on the numbers.  “I don’t think about how much I want.  I just want to sign with this team.  I don’t want hesitation or arbitration,” Suarez said.  The third baseman is in line for a very nice payday in the wake of a breakout season that saw him hit .265/.374/.476 with a career-best 26 home runs.  As Sheldon notes, the Reds just signed Tucker Barnhart (another player about to enter arbitration eligibility) to a long-term deal, and Suarez certainly makes sense as an extension candidate this winter.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently opined that Suarez’s future with the team could be at shortstop, should Zack Cozart leave in free agency and third base prospect Nick Senzel forces his way into the big league lineup in 2018.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Asked Orioles For Austin Hays In Zack Cozart Talks]]> 2017-09-22T17:36:06Z 2017-09-22T17:36:06Z
  • Heyman also reports that the Reds may try to retain Zack Cozart in 2018 and beyond after holding onto him in July and August. Per Heyman, the Reds set an extremely high asking price on Cozart, asking the Orioles at one point for top outfield prospect Austin Hays in return. That’s a steep ask for a Cozart rental, considering Hays broke out with a .329/.365/.593 slash and 32 homers in 128 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season before making his MLB debut in September.

  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Sign Tucker Barnhart To Four-Year Extension]]> 2017-09-23T00:27:54Z 2017-09-22T13:07:11Z The Reds announced on Friday morning that they’ve signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension that will keep him around through at least the 2021 season. Barnhart’s new contract also contains a club option for the 2022 season.

    Tucker Barnhart | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsZach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Barnhart will be guaranteed $16MM (Twitter link). That sum will paid out in the form of a $1.75MM signing bonus and annual salaries of $4MM (2018), $2.5MM (2019), $3.5MM (2020) and $3.75MM (2021). The 2022 option is valued at $7.5MM and comes with a $500K buyout, per Buchanan.

    If the option is exercised, Barnhart would reach the open market in advance of his age-32 season having earned at least $23MM over the life of his new contract. Escalators could push the maximum value of the deal to as much as $24.5MM over five seasons.

    “Tucker has made us proud on the field with his play and off the field with his community involvement,” said Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams in a statement announcing the contract. “He worked his way up through our system, improving every step of the way, and has established himself as an elite defensive catcher and a productive offensive player. Switch-hitting catchers who can impact the game defensively are tough to find.”

    Barnhart, a client of the Ballengee Group, was slated to reach free agency upon completion of the 2020 campaign, so this deal will lock in one of his free-agent seasons and give the Reds control over a second would-be free-agent year. He’d have been eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, so Barnhart’s contract will also allow him to ever avoid needing to deal with said process.

    While Barnhart is far from a household name, he’s quietly produced a quality 2017 season after emerging as the Reds’ primary catcher in 2016 due to Devin Mesoraco’s persistent injury issues. Barnhart batted a respectable .257/.323/.379 for the Reds in a career-high 115 games/420 plate appearances last season, and he’s elevated his offensive profile in 2017 with a .272/.349/.399 slash. While some of his OBP is undoubtedly a product of batting eighth in a National League lineup, Barnhart typically demonstrated keen plate discipline throughout his minor league career (10.7 percent minor league walk rate) and has struck out in just 16.4 percent of his plate appearances this season.

    Looking at the defensive side of his game, Barnhart has been nothing short of sensational when it comes to controlling the running game. He caught a well-above-average 33 percent of potential base thieves in the 2016 campaign and currently leads the National League with a gaudy 44 percent caught-stealing rate in 2017. Baseball Prospectus feels that he’s been the most valuable catcher in terms of throwing arm and one of the three best in terms of blocking pitches in the dirt this season. However, both B-Pro and peg Barnhart’s pitch framing as well below the league average.

    The Barnhart extension gives the Reds four players under contract through at least the 2019 season, although Raisel Iglesias figures to opt into arbitration this winter and, in doing so, forgo his guaranteed salaries for more sizable year-to-year paydays. Cincinnati also has Joey Votto and Homer Bailey earning a combined $48MM in 2019, and Barnhart will now join Votto as the only Reds player signed to a guaranteed deal in 2020 and in 2021.

    While there’s very limited financial risk for the team in the first place, the front-loaded nature of the contract further reduces some of that risk. Barnhart seems likely to handle the bulk of catching duties next year, given the uncertainty surrounding Mesoraco’s health, or at the very least split the load in a fairly even timeshare. But, he’ll earn closer to backup catcher salaries as the contract wears on, should the Reds look to augment their catching situation with a more formidable offensive backstop.

    As for Barnhart himself, he’ll lock in the first significant payday of his professional career. The former 10th-round pick signed a $250K bonus out of the draft and has earned at scarcely more than a pro-rated league-minimum rate to this point in the Majors. That his value comes more from controlling the running game and getting on base than accruing counting stats (homers, RBIs, etc.) would also likely have suppressed his earning potential in arbitration, giving Barnhart extra incentive to lock in his first fortune as a big leaguer.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Outright D.J. Peterson]]> 2017-09-19T17:59:20Z 2017-09-19T17:59:20Z The Reds have outrighted corner infielder D.J. Peterson after he cleared waivers, per a club announcement. Cincinnati had just claimed the former top prospect off waivers from the White Sox.

    Clearly, the series of moves was designed to add Peterson without tying up a 40-man spot, which seems to have been successful. He will be Rule 5 eligible if another organization wants to take a look during camp, but Peterson will not be able to elect minor-league free agency at the end of the current season.

    Chosen 12th overall in the 2013 draft, Peterson once rated as one of the game’s hundred or so best prospects. His stock has slipped, though, as it became evident he likely wouldn’t stick at third base and as his bat has failed to develop.

    The Mariners ultimately gave up on Peterson after he slashed .264/.323/.414 at Triple-A to open the season. He hit even less upon landing with the White Sox, but became the latest stalled power hitter to land with the Reds organization on Sunday. It seems reasonable to expect that Peterson will at least have some shot at impressing his new employer in camp, assuming he’s still with the club come mid-February.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds Claim D.J. Peterson From White Sox]]> 2017-09-17T18:34:17Z 2017-09-17T18:21:00Z The Reds have claimed infielder D.J. Peterson off waivers from the White Sox. Cincinnati transferred reliever Drew Storen to the 60-day disabled list in a corresponding move. The White Sox also outrighted catcher Alfredo Gonzalez to Double-A Birmingham, reducing their 40-man total to 38, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets.

    This is the second time this year a club has claimed Peterson. He previously went to the White Sox on Aug. 6 after the Mariners designated him for assignment at the end of July. For Seattle, moving on from the 25-year-old meant cutting ties with a 2013 first-round pick and a player who was once a highly regarded prospect. Peterson struggled this season with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate and did the same in his 97-plate appearance stint with the White Sox’s top farm team, giving him a .252/.315/.404 batting line in 518 PAs. The righty-swinger still hasn’t ascended to the majors, and he won’t report to the big league club upon his arrival to the Reds, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).

    The 25-year-old Gonzalez also hasn’t gotten past the minors since signing with the Astros as an international free agent in 2008. This year, his first in the Chicago organization, the Venezuelan hit .208/.306/.301 in 249 trips to the plate with Birmingham.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Drew Storen To Undergo Tommy John Surgery]]> 2017-09-17T15:10:14Z 2017-09-17T14:51:24Z Reds reliever Drew Storen will undergo Tommy John surgery, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). A right elbow strain has prevented Storen from taking the mound since Sept. 1, which will go down as his final appearance of the year, and the injury led the Reds to place him on the disabled list a week ago.

    In addition to ending his 2017 campaign early, the procedure is all but guaranteed to take Storen out of play for next season. The 30-year-old is due to hit free agency during the upcoming winter, but both the injury and his underwhelming production in recent seasons will work against him on the open market.

    Storen, whom the Reds signed to a one-year, $3MM deal last January, pitched to a 4.45 ERA in 54 2/3 innings this season and posted some of the worst strikeout and walk rates of his career (7.9 K/9 and 3.79 BB/9). He also saw his velocity dip for the second straight year, which happened to be his second subpar season in a row. As a member of the Blue Jays and Mariners in 2016, Storen combined for 51 2/3 frames of 5.23 ERA ball. Only five qualified relievers have prevented runs at a worse rate than Storen’s 4.82 ERA over the past two years.

    At his best, Storen was one of the game’s most effective relievers from 2010-15, when he worked as a setup man and a closer in Washington. Storen, whom the Nationals chose 10th overall in the 2009 draft, amassed 334 innings of 3.02 ERA pitching in D.C. and recorded 8.65 K/9 against 2.59 BB/9.